What Kids Need: Planning Skills

As a former school administrator for many years, I can certainly testify to the need for kids to develop planning skills.  In the high school where I worked for many years, we went to great lengths to provide each student with a personalized planner that they could use for the school and life stuff.  Like many schools, these planners would surface for a while, and then as the school year went on, they would disappear.  Many of the students who ended up in my office on a disciplinary referral from teachers lacked planning skills.  Homework went unanswered, untracked, and grades slipped accordingly.  Working with kids to help them learn planning skills is paramount to their future success.  Think about how many adults you know still do not have planning skills?  Appointments and scheduling conflicts are necessary skills because of a lack of planning.

By using a specific type of planner, either paper or electronic, or a hybrid system of both, which I use, events that overlap, for example, is discovered far in advance.  Appointments are discovered and adjusted when planning occurs.  Sit down at the beginning of the school year, write down all of the dates they provide regarding your child’s school year and get them recorded on your calendar.  Write two-week notices in advance of important events, such as Homecoming, Prom, and other vital activities.  When parents take time to sit with their kids and help them do the same, things start to happen.  I have long felt that when kids fail to plan, they purposely lack a commitment to completing their work on time and with quality.  The Search Institute survey data says that only 59% of kids today have this asset in their lives.  That means 40% lack the necessary planning skills or do not take the time to do so.

Everyone in the family should have key family dates on their calendar and, as a family, commit to those dates.  For example, Tiffany has an important volleyball game and is also parents’ night, so everyone gets that date on their calendar, and let’s all commit to scheduling around it.  By teaching them commitments, kids realize that scheduling is always a commitment, and conflicts will also arise.  Family calendar building can be done at a family meeting once a month or by the quarter.  I also want to challenge parents to require their kids to write their homework down for every class every night and produce that list upon demand from the parent.  Planning encourages commitment on their part to do their best and to plan for success.  Parents that do not do this with their kids are setting themselves up for kids who turn 18 years old and have no idea what they want to do.  They respond with, Oh, it’s okay, she is young and has plenty of time.  I disagree; when kids plan years, they take classes that help them prepare for their goals, not just try them years later.  It is critical to encourage integrity, commitment, determination, and a successful future.

I want to challenge parents to sit with their families and make sure everyone has a planner and is using it.  Put on those family dates, those key school dates, and any other commitments.  If the kids are a part of a music organization or sports team, get all the performance and game dates on the calendar so everyone knows.  You’ll notice a big difference in the family’s stress level as things will run much more smoothly.

I have a post on Making A Plan where I address this in a slightly different way at Make A Plan – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com)

Related to planning is an article, Mapping Your Future: Make High School Count at Mapping Your Future: Make High School Count

Yours for Better Parenting,